Today’s lesson continues Jeremiah’s first message from God.
Jeremiah Chapter 2
Lessons from the text
When Not to Witness
Verse 24 says that people will not “weary themselves” trying to return idolaters back into the fold of God. If you see someone consumed with passion to pursue an ungodly lifestyle, trying to “win them over” will do nothing but make you weary. It is important to be able to recognize when someone has reached the “month” and is susceptible to your witness. You want to approach people with the comfort of the Gospel when they are burdened down with worry and problems, not when they are living it up partying every night.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1-3 God reminisces over Israel; when they were young as a nation, having just come out of Egypt, God says they sought Him and were kind, loving, and holy towards Him. This is odd considering how many rebellions are recorded by Moses (Exo. 15:22-24, 16:2-3, 32:1-35, Num. 16:1-35). Because of their stubbornness, God finally had to decree that none of them be allowed to enter into the promised land of Canaan except for two who had remained faithful to Him (Num. 14:28-30). Despite all the sins of the people, God still views them as having been endeared towards Him.
4-5 God asks the Jews to consider how God has treated their fathers and how throughout time God has done nothing to prove Himself unfaithful or a trustworthy. Despite His innocence, the people have turned away from God to seek after their own vain desires.
6 The people fail to look back, consider their history, and realize their God is no longer with them. They have gotten so far from Him that they do not even realize He is missing.
7 God brought the people into a place good, but they defiled it by sacrificing to idols. When man commits a spiritual sin, he pollutes not only himself but also the place wherein he dwells.
8 Even the priests who were supposedly worshiping God did not even know Him. It is a sad thing when the pastors and teachers of the word of God are so far from God that they do not even know Him.
9 In response to being forsaken, God will plead with the people and their children. God extends His grace so that even if the parents choose an ungodly life, He will call to the child to give that child the option to forsake his parents' ways and choose righteousness.
10-14 God tells the Jews to go look at the Gentile nations and see that they have not even done what Israel has done; worshipers of idols do not forsake there god to go chase after another idol, yet the Jews have forsaken the living God who can fight on their behalf for gods that are so useless that they cannot even hold water. This is such a gross sin that even the heavens respond with fear. Noteworthy is that worshiping an idol is two sins in the eyes of God: o ne for turning away from Him and another for creating and worshiping a fake god. God says that such behavior is like that of a spoiled child; they are ungrateful and abusive of their freedom.
15-19 In response for their sin, nature and man is turned against Israel. Noph and Tahapanes are both ancient Egyptian cities, Noph being near modern-day Cairo and Tahapanes where the Suez Canal now resides. Tahapanes will be the place where a Jewish remnant will flee after the Babylonian conquest (Jer. 43:7). All these misfortunes are meant to reproof Israel so that they may know that they have sinned. The fear of the Lord is not in them means that they have dismissed Him completely. Noteworthy is that sooner or later one 's sins will return to correct and rebuke one.
20 God has done only good to Israel, yet they have gone back on there promise to serve Him alone (Josh. 24:21-22). That is, while God has been faithful to them, they have not been faithful to God.
21 God asks and wonder how they could have become so evil when they started out with everything they needed to thrive in righteousness. They have no excuse for leaving their perfect environment to chase after sin.
22 No matter how clean one may be physically, God looks at the heart and soul. If it is unclean, then all of one is unclean.
23 God rebukes Israel for claiming innocence from idolatry. One who says to God's face that one has been faithful to Him and has been undeniably worshiping another god is lying. Israel could not claim innocence towards God because groves and altars to other gods could be found in their borders (II Ki. 21:1-3).
24 The donkey is known for its stubbornness. A wild donkey is used to running amok, chasing its desire at its whim. Once it gets a scent of its mate, it pursues with unrelenting passion until it reaches its mate. God is saying that Israel has become so overrun with passion for false gods that they chase uncontrollably them. Those that seek them are the prophets or faithful of God desiring to bring the idolaters back into a right relationship with God.
Seeing how stubborn and unrelenting the idolaters are, those who would lead them back into safety will not weary themselves trying to dissuade the idolaters. Instead, they will wait until “her month” (the time of child-birthing) when they have fulfilled their lusts and are weary from bearing the burden of their actions. Then, those who wish to bring the idolaters back will be able to easily find and overtake them.
25 To be barefoot implies being unprepared and carefree. To withhold from thirst is to bridle one’s passion. The point is to not make oneself exposed by pursuing one’s lusts. Israel, however, is like the wild donkey who, once having set her eyes on her desire, will not turn back. The sense is that they have lost control and can no longer subdue their passions.
26-30 Knowing that they are doing wrong, the Jews are ashamed of their actions. Having the physical presence of God, they know better than to pretend like He does not exist. They willingly choose to walk away from the living God to chase after wood and stone, even taking the nonsensical stance that the world was created by objects within the creation.
Israel is happy to worship these false gods until trouble arises. Then, they turn to the living God. This shows that they know all along who is a real god. If they believed that the idols of stone and wood were alive, they would cry out to them for deliverance. Instead, they return to God. They believe that they can seek after their own lusts, doing whatever they want to do, and ask God for help when things go wrong.
The Lord is not a wishing well. He is not a magic genie just waiting to serve man’s whims. Would someone eagerly help a spouse who has left home to chase after sexual lusts and only returns when in trouble? Even so God will not serve those who have played the harlot against Him.
In sarcasm, God turns such away with the explanation that since they have chose idols as their lovers, they should look to them for help. Like a faithful spouse, God has tried to get them to come back home, even trying to reach them through their children, but has been unsuccessful. Israel is in such a state that they are actively destroying those who stand up for God.
31 If God had caused Israel to become a wilderness or to be lost in darkness, He could understand them wanting to take matters into their own hands and lead themselves. However, He has not been so.
32 God is supposed to be an ornament and attire for man to wear. That is, as one dresses to cover oneself and to beautify oneself, one is to cloth oneself in God’s righteousness. As a maid rejoices over her jewels and a bride over her gown, man is to rejoice over God’s presence. Yet Israel has left Him collecting dust in the closet.
33-34 Not only has Israel abandoned God, but they have also taught others to do evil. Noteworthy is that it is a gross sin to ignore or abuse the poor. A civilization that thrives on the backs of the poor through unfair labor and slavery is guilty of murder in God’s eyes. Worse, He has not had to look diligently in Israel to discover this sin; it is plainly worn for all to see.
35 Like a small child expecting to play innocent, Israel expects quick forgiveness from God. Such is foolishness. If one has willfully walked away from Him, one cannot expect God to accept an excuse of ignorance. God tries to nip this in the bud by forewarning Israel that such behavior is unacceptable.
36-37 To “baddest” merely means “to go”; therefore, Israel is changing its ways often. Actively seeking to go away from God, when trouble comes they are left shamed by their alliances, finding them unprofitable. Assyria betrayed them during Ahaz’s reign, and Egypt will betray them in Jehoahaz’s reign (II Chro. 28:16-20; II Ki. 23:31-35).
Thank you for your faithfulness in studying God’s word.
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